By Alice for More Than Toast
London is such a great place to visit – for days with friends or family days out – that you really shouldn’t wait for an excuse. Sure, it’s nice to head to the capital for a birthday, hen party or anniversary, but you don’t need an occasion such as this to justify a trip. In fact, it’s great to head to London if you’re due some much-needed TLC.
Here are some top tips to help you treat yourself in London:
What better therapy than some retail therapy? Oxford Street has more than 300 shops including pretty much every chain you could care to list, as well as Selfridges. Regent Street is slightly more upmarket – and home to London classics such as Hamleys, Liberty (just off on Great Marlborough Street) – and Bond Street and Mayfair sit at the top of the pecking order, offering designer boutiques for the luxury shopper. Don’t forget Harrods in Knightsbridge or the unique chic offerings of King’s Road in Chelsea – while Carnaby Street has retained the spirit it first became famed for in the swinging 60s. And that’s just for starters, there’s plenty more to explore if that hasn’t fed your shopping urge. Tatty Devine in Brick Lane and Alice Through the Looking Glass near Charing Cross should also be on your hit list.
Once you’ve shopped til you’ve dropped, it’s time for some refreshment. If you’re trying to treat yourself then nothing quite beats afternoon tea. Tea at The Ritz is, if your budget allows, a the ultimate experience – with sandwiches, scones and cake in fine surroundings (you need to dress for the occasion) all accompanied by an opera singer and pianist. Still, you don’t have to pay Ritz prices to be royally treated. German Gymnasium in King’s Cross was recently voted the most beautiful restaurant in the world and for £18.50 you can opt for ‘The German’ or ‘The Austrian’ afternoon tea. Black Forest ham, celeriac remoulade mini rolls, nussecken (German nut shortbread) and apple strudel, as Stylist notes, justify giving a European twist to this British classic.
Shopping? Done. Food? Sorted. Now it’s time for some entertainment on your TLC trip. The West End is home to some of the best live theatre in the world and is a great way to escape from the real world for a few hours. If you fancy some serious drama or a laugh-along comedy, there’ll be a show for you, but since you’re treating yourself, why not opt for the visual spectacle of a Disney classic such as Aladdin? You know you’d love it.
Where to stay
Once you’re done with that, why not book yourself into to stay somewhere nice? There’s nothing worse than having to rush home after your show – much better than you can relax in a comfortable bed at a luxurious hotel and feel truly pampered. Did you know, for example, that you can look out over the city while staying in The Shard for the night? The Shangri-La has opened a hotel on floors 34 to 52 of the iconic landmark and it won’t disappoint. Sir Terence Conran’s Boundary in Shoreditch is a design-lover’s dream, as is the Kit Kemp-inspired Covent Garden Hotel, while the Great Northern Hotel at King’s Cross dates back to the golden age of the railways and has benefitted from a great revamp in recent times. Its couchette rooms include beds snugly fitted into the window in the style of sleeper carriages. Each floor of the hotel also has a pantry stocked with vintage sweets, fresh cakes, tea and coffee, newspapers and books. Very TLC.
So, what are you waiting for? You don’t need an excuse – head to London and give yourself a treat.